Donald Trump Has Another Big Idea: The former president, who has long touted that he didn’t launch any new wars as president, was asking for a way to strike at drug cartels in Mexico a few months back.
Would he act on it if he wins the White House back?
Donald Trump Wants to Do What?
A big part of Donald Trump’s rise, of course, is that he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” and vowed to build a wall to make Mexico pay for it.
But another part of that rise was that he was in firm opposition to the foreign adventurism of the Bush/Cheney era. To this day, Trump and his allies frequently tout that Trump got through his term without launching any new foreign wars.
Those two goals are likely to end up in tension, as Trump ramps up his third presidential campaign. According to a Rolling Stone report from early April, the former president is asking advisers for “a range of military options aimed at taking on Mexican drug cartels, including strikes that are not sanctioned by Mexico’s government.”
“‘Attacking Mexico,’ or whatever you’d like to call it, is something that President Trump has said he wants ‘battle plans’ drawn for,” a source told Rolling Stone. “He’s complained about missed opportunities of his first term, and there are a lot of people around him who want fewer missed opportunities in a second Trump presidency.”
Those options, per the report, include “unilateral military strikes and troop deployments on a sovereign U.S. partner and neighbor.” Trump has been briefed on a proposal from the Center for Renewing America, called “It’s Time to Wage War on Transnational Drug Cartels.” The report, from last October, was authored by Ken Cuccinelli, who served in multiple roles in the Trump Administration, including Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
Cuccinelli, per Rolling Stones, is supporting Gov. Ron DeSantis for president.
“Given the scope of the cartels’ power, influence, and operational control over the US southern border, long-lasting border security cannot be fully achieved until the US fundamentally reorients its posture toward these transnational criminal organizations and wages defensive war against the cartels to protect the American people,” the report says. It also suggests a new statutory designation for such cartels and recommends that Mexico be asked to help- while making clear that they do not have veto power over U.S. actions.
“Under the first tier of a war against the cartels, the US government is formally announcing its intention to invoke its inherent right to self-defense and putting into place the pieces necessary to bring forth the full force of the federal government to secure its borders and defeat those profiting off the abuse of migrants and the destruction of US communities from safe havens inside Mexico,” it continues.
The paper calls for a multiphase battle against the cartels, leading up to Tier Four: “Victory Phase.”
“Success in this mission will restore faith in America’s ability to protect herself and her allies from those who seek power and profit off of death and destruction,” the paper says.
Where Did This Crazy Idea Come From?
Calling for a military intervention to deal with Mexico’s drug cartels is not a new idea.
Other Republicans, including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have called for something similar, while Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has asked why “we still haven’t declared the cartels a military target. Not to be outdone, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has called for declaring cartels terrorist organizations and asked why we’re fighting a war in Ukraine, and we’re not bombing the Mexican cartels.”
Legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress to authorize military action in Mexico to go after cartels.
Reason magazine argued earlier this year that war isn’t the way to deal with the cartels.
“The increase in overdose deaths among Americans is tragic and obviously a problem. It isn’t one that will be solved by fighting the war on drugs just a little bit harder. It certainly isn’t one that will be solved by bombing a neighboring country against its wishes, risking further escalation.”
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.